It never ceases to amaze me the power that a woman can hold when she is educated and determined. It also never ceases to amaze me how wine brings educated and determined women together to create a better world to live in.
Stacy Lill and Kathy Johanson are a perfect example of what I’m talking about here. Their dream is to stop the cycle of abuse of women who were not afforded the privilege of higher education due to their economic circumstances. The way that they are doing this is through providing scholarships to underprivileged girls, and eventually to build an academy where motivated young women can realize their goals for higher education.
How are the scholarships funded? Through the sales of the O brand of wine. Yes…they are selling a product that demographically is most purchased by educated females to produce financial resources to make more educated females. Nothing short of brilliant!!
So, instantly my thoughts were that these wines were going to be run-of-the-mill, medium grade wines made from overflow juice from some winery. Not true in the least. If you do some research on Stacy Lill, you realize that she is the wife of Greg Lill from DeLille Cellars. DeLille Cellars is the only winery in Washington State to ever receive top 100 ratings from three publications: the Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and the Robb Report. Suffice it to say, these folks are not new to the wine industry.
O Wines are currently produced in a Chardonnay and a newly released Red Blend. I was able to sample the Chardonnay and found it very pleasing. It offers up nice fleshy melon and citrus zest on the nose. The flavors are melon, peaches, and a crisp citrus zest, followed by a round creaminess and buttery flavor. Most of the fermentation was definitely done in stainless with some oak time to give it nicely rounded flavors. It is the kind of wine that encourages just sitting and visiting, or you could have it with seafood such as scampi prawns as a fantastic pairing.
In my initial look at the O Wines website led me to believe that the scholarship fund was limited to young women in Washington State only. However, as of July of 2009 Stacy and Kathy signed on to be partners with the Oregon State University SMILE Program. Their agreement is to fund 5 scholarships for the next 5 years. This will allow 25 young women from Oregon to have the opportunity to receive funding through this program.
The SMILE Program at OSU provides a “pipeline” that takes students from 4th – 12th grade, and ultimately on to some kind of post-secondary education. Most of the funding is directed toward rural communities in the state.
As for criteria for young ladies to be eligible for the O Wines scholarship, there are a few rules. The girl must be 1) a US citizen, 2) must maintain a 2.75 or higher GPA, 3) must accept a mentor through the education process, 4) no pregnancies, 5) no drugs or problems in school (if the problems are educational they offer tutoring), 6) the family must meet financial nee guidelines. Girls may apply for the program as young as 11 years old.
There is not a need for commitment to a 4 year degree program. Girls who are in need of 2 year degree programs or trade school education are also encouraged to apply. You can find out more about O Wines at www.owines.com .